Isles Views

By Lawrence Tulloch

The late James Nicholson

Communities in Yell and beyond were saddened to hear of the death last week of James Nicholson. If anyone ever had the right to be described as honest and hardworking, it was Jeemie a Breckon.

He was born in Houlland, Cullivoe, in 1933 and moved with his family the short distance to Breckon in 1944. From that time on the Nicholson family sought to make a living from the land. In those days there was no tractors or mechanical aids. Everything had to be done the traditional and labour intensive way.

Once when I was a child and Jeemie was an early teenager, the bull that my father looked after got tangled in a fence and tore the ring from his nose. It was painful in the extreme and the poor animal went berserk,  charging anything in his path and completely demolishing the peat stack.

My father was away at the time and Jeemie came to help. He showed no signs of fear but he kept well away until the beast had spent his fury and energy and then calmly led the bull into his shed and shut the door.

In the 1950s Jeemie’s younger brothers Daniel and John left Breckon. The crofts could not support them all. Daniel went to sea and John to the Antarctic whaling. Jeemie devoted himself to the land and an agricultural way of life.

When the father of the family, Tammie, retired Alex, the youngest son, joined Jeemie in working full time at crofting. All of the brothers got married. Alex’s wife Jennifer came to live in Breckon and when Jeemie married he went to live at the Houses, Cullivoe, but continued to work at Breckon.

Jeemie was a man of simple tastes and pleasures; he enjoyed nothing more than being in the local hall drinking a bottle of beer and yarning with friends. In friends he had plenty; indeed he never made an enemy in his life. He was also a regular kirk goer to the Cullivoe Church of Scotland. A visit to his house was a “must” for every Cullivoe Guizer Jarl squad in recent years.

Although he suffered, all his life, from a slight speech impediment, he had beautiful North Yell dialect and vocabulary. A conversation with him was always a real pleasure. Failing health forced him to stop working and he found it hard to adapt to a life indoors and away from agriculture. The last months of his life were spent in care centres.

He was quoted as saying that before he came to Breckon he was too young and unable to work, now he had had to leave Breckon because he was too old and unable to work. Rather sadly his life had come full circle.

Cancer charity

Some Unst men took part in Movember, growing moustaches and raising money for Men’s Health and the Prostate Cancer Charity. Paul Thomson says that money for this good cause is still coming in but to date they have raised £1,000. Paul would like to thank everyone who took part and all who gave generously throughout the month.

Yell water developments

Anyone travelling past the head of Bastavoe in Yell will see that the infrastructure for the new Yell water supply from Gossa Water is progressing well. Tulloch Developments has almost completed the steelwork and cladding for the new treatment works. This is adjacent to the old hill road to Cullivoe.
Yell Community Council has been kept up to date with progress. Raymond Aitken of Scottish Water said that he had a meeting recently with the treatment process supplier, MEMCOR, which is part of Siemens, to, among other things, agree on a programme.

Mr Aitken added that he hopes to have the firm on site at the end of February with the aim of having the plant up and running by late summer next year. Scottish Water still has a couple of “consents” to obtain from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) with respect to water abstraction and discharge and this might take “a bit of time”. The new concrete storage tank, previously planned for Tittynans Hill, will now be tucked in to the rear corner at the south end of the new treatment works site.

A new pumping station, located on the site between the new tank and access road, will pump treated water north to storage and distribution at Cullivoe and south to storage and distribution at Mid Yell from where water will also be supplied to the existing Burravoe distribution system. The new pump house at Dalsetter will allow the proposed booster stations at the Burravoe Hall and Mid Yell to be removed from the work scope as they will no longer be required.

Wayleave notices have yet to be issued for the new pumping main to Cullivoe (90mm diameter to be laid generally adjacent to the old Dalsetter to Cullivoe road), the extended pumping main up the hill from the existing Mid Yell booster pumping station to the Mid Yell treatment works, and the amended pipe route for the new main at Burravoe.

Tulloch Developments is progressing with the pipe laying work down the east side of Yell and this should be completed by the end of February. Frank L Johnson is progressing with the raw water main from Gossa Water and hopes that this will be completed by the end of the year.

Working conditions have not been great these last few weeks but steady progress is being made. Sampling from Gossa Water has just finished. Scottish Water now has a full year’s results to use in finalising the treatment process design. It still has a Sepa licence and agreements to obtain for abstracting water from Gossa Water.

New kitchen for the Checkout

It is rather more than a year ago that new public toilets were opened in North Unst. They are to be found at the shop, filling station and café The Final Checkout. During shop opening hours the toilets can be accessed from the shop but there is also an entrance to the outside that is always open.

The café has gone from strength to strength and its popularity has put considerable strain on the small kitchen where food was prepared and cooked. The opening of the public toilets has had a somewhat surprising spin off effect on the kitchen.

There used to be a staff toilet but now there is no need for separate facilities and the staff toilet has been discontinued and the space gained used to enlarge the kitchen. Charlie Priest said that this has made a huge difference to the café part of the business.

He has installed a new, bigger, cooker and there is now a coffee machine that can make cappuccino, milky coffee and hot chocolate drinks. Charlie also said that given the amount of trade the shop is enjoying it will stay open all year round.

Unst Show site buyout

Unst Show committee has contacted Shetland Amenity Trust to confirm that it will pay the legal expenses incurred on the transfer of deeds for the land at Hagdale. The transfer of the land will supersede the existing leases.

It is the aim of the committee to establish a permanent show ground for the very popular event held every year. Up until now the show alternated between Haroldswick and Baltasound and the new preferred site, at Hagdale, is in exactly the right place – halfway between the two.

Sail Yell
group formed
A meeting was held in the Yell Leisure Centre on 30th November to form a group to oversee and organise the visit of the Tall Ships to Cullivoe in July 2011. There was a good turnout at the meeting, around 30, and a group was formed. As well as the Cullivoe end of things, the new group will link with the Tall Ships Lerwick visit and promote tall ships sailing locally, especially among young people.

The name of the new group is Sail Yell. The committee members are Barry Nisbet (chairman), Steven Brown, Will John Anderson, Emily Tulloch, Douglas Leask, Owen Strachan and Fiona Nicholson (secretary/treasurer). Barry says that membership is open to all.

Setters Hill housing

Simon Yates of Defence Estates has been explaining what is happening with the houses in the Setters Hill Estate in Baltasound. Number 32 has been sold and number 38 is on the market and if this sells soon he might put another up for sale soon.

Mr Yates explained that his plan is to try and match supply to demand and not flood the market, but he does not rule out the option of speeding up the sales process with other disposal methods such as auctions.

Defence Estates has agreed to sell 10 houses to Hjaltland Housing providing the deal can be done before the end of this financial year. If this goes ahead Hjaltland will refurbish the houses and move out of all the houses it currently leases in two years’ time.


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